National Policy Statement For Indigenous Biodiversity

The Government has gazetted the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) which will come into force on 4 August 2023. 

An exposure draft of the NPS-IB, released in June 2022 (and the subject of over 5000 public submissions) was summarised in an earlier legal alert – Exposure draft of the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity released.

The Ministry for the Environment, which prepared the NPS-IB with support from the Department of Conservation, intends the NPS-IB to protect, maintain and restore the environment and form an essential response to the biodiversity decline in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The objective of the NPS-IB is to maintain indigenous biodiversity across Aotearoa New Zealand so that there is "at least no overall loss in indigenous biodiversity" after the commencement date of the NPS-IB.

To this end, local authorities are obliged to undertake assessments to identify Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), applying a nationally consistent set of assessment criteria.  The NPS-IB provides policy direction that certain adverse effects on SNAs from new subdivision, use and development are to be avoided, which is likely to have wide-reaching implications for use and development in SNAs, if the listed exceptions do not apply.

The NPS-IB closely follows the exposure draft.  The key substantive changes made to that draft include:

  • Strengthened provisions to protect, maintain and enhance indigenous biodiversity.
  • A blanket exclusion for renewable electricity generation and transmission assets and activities from the NPS-IB requirements.
  • A strengthened role for tangata whenua to be involved as partners with local government in all aspects of the management of indigenous biodiversity such as the identification of SNAs and decision-making.  This includes managing biodiversity in a way that gives effect to a set of decision-making principles that must inform the implementation of the NPS-IB.  These principles seek to prioritise the mauri of biodiversity and enable the application of te ao Māori and mātaraunga Māori (among other matters).  Additionally, indigenous biodiversity is now to be managed in a way that takes into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Broadening the definition of "specified infrastructure" to include infrastructure that is necessary to support housing development and upgrades, in order to provide a consenting pathway for such development (ie allowing effects on indigenous biodiversity to be managed through the effects management hierarchy).
  • Strengthening provisions to provide for plantation forestry activities, including providing a consenting pathway for the harvest of indigenous tree species from an SNA to allow effects on indigenous biodiversity to be managed through the effects management hierarchy.
  • Providing greater flexibility so that it is only where information about areas used by highly mobile species is available that regional councils are obliged to record and manage adverse effects on highly mobile fauna areas.
  • Clarifying that it is only those "significant" adverse effects outside SNAs that are to be managed through the effects management hierarchy, with other adverse effects outside SNAs to be managed to give effect to the objective and policies of the NPS-IB.
  • Softening the application of the offsetting and compensation principles so that only some need to be complied with while others are to be "had regard to".

Click here to view the gazetted NPS-IB.

Our national environment and resource management team has been following the development of the NPS-IB closely.  Please contact a member of our team if you would like to discuss the potential implications of the NPS-IB.